Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nom Nom Nom

Happy Weekend my lovelies!

Yesterday I spent my afternoon basking in the sun in a park in Brooklyn, picnicking with some absolutely lovely people. I can't think of a better way to spend such a gorgeous, sunny afternoon.

As it happens, several people at the picnic asked for the recipe for the dessert I brought, which, incidentally, looked like this:

Heavenly, right? I know. I'm awesome.

It's a pudding, but in the British sense of the word, which means that under that lovely, crusty top it is a creamy colour and has a consistency somewhere between sponge cake and flan. Difficult to describe if you've never had it, but very, very tasty. And since I just spent a few minutes typing up the recipe to send to one of my fellow picnickers, I thought I'd share it with you all as well!

Lemon Surprise Pudding

1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar *
1/2 cup self raising flour **
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C, Gas 5). Use a little butter to grease a 5 cup (.5 litre, 2 pint) baking dish.

2. Beat the lemon rind, butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and flour and beat together well. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice, then milk (the mixture will curdle, but this is supposed to happen).

3. Fold the egg whites lightly into the lemon mixture using a metal spoon, then pour into the prepared baking dish.

4. Place the dish in a roasting pan and pour in hot water to come halfway up the side of the dish. Bake for 45 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.

* Superfine sugar is NOT confectioner sugar, it is granulated sugar that is ground, well, superfinely. I only had a little left so I went halfsies with regular granulated sugar and it didn't pose a problem. If you use regular, just spend a little extra time beating together with the butter & lemon rind.

** If you don't have self-raising flour, you can just add 1/2 tsp baking powder at the same time as the flour.

I used an electric juicer to juice my lemon which gives a LOT of juice, so when it came time to fold in the egg whites my mixture was very liquid and the heavy egg whites weren't blending with the batter. I ended up using the electric mixer on low to beat them in, just for a few seconds. Didn't seem to cause any problems.

Finally, it took my pudding about an hour to bake, versus 45 minutes, which may be because, as I said, the mixture was really liquid. Either way, just go by the colour on top. When it's nice and golden brown, it's ready.

And there you have it! I've got a whole slew of Food Porn on my harddrive just waiting to be shared (chicken & snow peas, several pizzas, and my first attempt at homemade ravioli, just to name a few), but I'll save those for another time.

Perhaps I should just turn this into a food blog and call it a day. But then, where would I go to bitch about stupid people on the subway, or my love life (if, you know, I ever happen to develop one)?

Yup, better to keep it as it is--and much like my diet--a little bit of everything.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, May 29, 2009


I just received a lengthy mass email from High School Nemesis Who Has Now Found God And Is Therefore, Apparently, No Longer An Asshole. While the first portion of the email was at least an educated and well-written brief (with citations!) on his own religious struggle (he has a Masters in Theology...from Yale, no less), the second half was one of those forwarded-to-death, tug-at-your-heartstrings, isn't-god-great-etc-etc emails.

After the schmaltzy story [insert close-up of single tear], there was this:

"When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go, only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly!"

Being one to frequently equate organized religion with the behavior of lemmings, I couldn't help but find this ironic.

Rut Rut Rut

I am in a serious rut.

As non-thrilled as I am at the prospect of waitressing again, at least once the restaurant opens and I start working a regular schedule I'll be doing something.

You see, the chief difficulty that I've found with being unemployed is that, when you have such an extensive amount of free time in which to do things, it becomes exceedingly difficult to do anything at all.

Laundry, for example. If you work 9-5, Monday thru Friday, you either do your laundry at the weekend, or drop it off after work one day and pick it up the next (another bonus of being gainfully employed: the option of paying someone else to do your laundry for you). When unemployed, however, there is no pressure to get your laundry, or anything else, done today, because your schedule for the next day is equally open.

I am running dangerously low on clean underwear.

This constant availability begets a very vicious cycle that winds up with me sitting on my couch in my pajamas, frittering away the day on the internet, bookmarking job postings but never actually getting around to applying for them because, naturally, I can always do that tomorrow. There are two colleges within the five boroughs that are looking to expand their adjunct staff. All I need to do is write a cover letter, double check with my usual references that they don't mind being referenced, and then send off the letter with my CV.

Have I done it yet?

Give a guess.

I seem to fall into ruts like this fairly frequently, and I wish I could figure out how to break the cycle. I am, in general, an active person. When I'm sitting here on my couch ignoring my ever-expanding Google Reader (I promise I still love all of you, really I do) and opting instead to refresh my Facebook home page every 5 minutes to see who's updated their status and whether there are any new quizzes for me to take, there is a part of me that is edgy, restless, and irritated, wishing I was doing something productive with my time.

Which is usually when I get up and bake something. We're not even going to talk about how much weight I've gained in the past few months.

Maybe it's the weather. Last week when it was beautiful all I did was sit in the park for hours at a time and read, which is not technically productive, yet I felt good about it. Felt that I had accomplished something.

Why is it that laziness out of doors promotes a sense of active engagement, whereas laziness on the couch promotes a sense of sloth? Other than Vitamin D intake, what is the actual difference?

I have no conclusion for this post. Bitching about my irritation with myself did not bring me to any startling resolution--not that I thought it would, mind, but it would have been nice.

I'm sick of feeling dissatisfied. I just wish I knew what to do about it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Can Hardly Believe It But...

... I joined Twitter.

Leave no mental stone unturned.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I am convinced that Insomnia is the Universe's way of paying me back for some indiscretion that I have yet to commit--and I can only hope that, when I do, it is fucking worth it.

So, rather than letting the Universe sit smugly by while I get increasingly more irritated at my own inability to achieve a REM state, I will instead relate an entertaining conversation that took place earlier today.

I was at the new job, sitting around with a few other waitresses shooting the shit whilst waiting our turn to practice some special method of scooping ice cream. As often happens when a large number of people are all embarking on a new path of employment, we began swapping tales of previous jobs and the shit we'd had to endure while employed thereby.

The subject, predictably enough, turned to lecherous bosses.

"So I was temping at this hedge fund, right around the corner actually..." I began.

"Oh, which one?" Asked one of the other girls. We've all worked pretty much every job known to man.

"Brentwood Advisors, over on 66th." **

"Oh, okay, go on," she said, and I proceeded to share the story of a going away party that took place when I'd only been working there for a few weeks, where I happened to get far drunker than advisable with some of the younger guys from the firm, and how one of them, when he walked me down to get a taxi when I realized I was tanked, proceeded to stick his tongue down my throat. Twice. Meanwhile he had a girlfriend, who called him, like, 5 times a day, which I knew, because it was my job to answer his damned phones.

"What was his name?" The girl asked.

"Errr... Jason.... something. I don't remember his last name." I finished up my tale, describing the incredibly irate drunken email that I sent (to his work email address) when I got home, and the retracting email I sent the following morning saying that, in light of keeping things professional, perhaps it was best that we just forget the whole thing.

As the tale of awkwardness wound down, the girl who'd been asking all the questions smiled and said,

"I am now going to blow your mind with what a small world this is... His name is Jason Smith, and his girlfriend's name is Stacy. I know, because I worked there too."

Well let me tell you, my head damned near exploded as I struggled to control the surge of laughter that overtook me (not to mention the relief because for a moment I thought she was going to turn out to be either the girlfriend, or a close friend thereof).

As I got myself back under control, she proceeded to tell me that, when she'd first started temping there (a few years after me), she'd been shocked to see him because several years before that she'd answered his Causal Encounters ad on Craigslist (once again while he was with the same girlfriend, to whom he is now, incidentally, married)!

I must own that I was relieved to learn that the guy was simply a sleaze, and that I had done nothing to encourage him to molest my tonsils while I was hammered.

There is, however, a moral to be learned, which is this: Be careful what stories you tell in New York City, because no matter how big you think it is, everybody knows everybody.

It's like high school.

With cocaine.


** Names and locations have been changed to protect the guilty. And what passes for my reputation.


I was supposed to go to a picnic yesterday, but was deterred by the 90 minute travel time (each way) and the imminent threat of a drum circle. Instead, I opted to loaf around the house for a few hours and then pack up my stuff and hike up the giant hill to hang out in the (much more crowded than usual) park.

As I lay on my back, absorbed in my 80th re-reading of "Pride and Prejudice," I was startled from my reverie of Darcy-lust by a frisbee which winged unexpectedly across my field of vision, knocking the book from my hands and sending it flying across the grass.

Now, had this been a romantic comedy, perhaps starring Amanda Peet as the anything-but-ingenue female lead, the perpetrator of this act--played by a Ryan Reynolds, or perhaps even an on-break-from-Fringe Joshua Jackson--would have loped easily to my side, grinning charmingly. Witty banter would ensue and, before the sun had set, we would be well on our way to purchasing a duplex in New Jersey or, at the very least, have made plans to meet later for dinner/drinks/raunchy sex.

Instead, the man who ran over (whether he was the thrower or failed-catcher, I could not say) was of only average-ish attractiveness, and while he did retrieve my book and inquired after my general well-being, offered only a profuse apology (no banter or other demonstration) before he returned to his game, and I to my book.

My life, clearly, is not a chick flick.

While the remainder of the afternoon passed pleasantly enough, I did discover one down-side to going to the park alone: nobody to watch your things should you need to go in search of the bathroom. (See, again! If this were a movie, the Ryan/Joshua frisbee thrower/misser would have offered to watch my things as repayment for hitting me, and then perhaps left some cute message in my notebook, or programmed his number into my phone, during my absence.) Rather than leave the park--almost immediately upon arrival--I decided instead to hold it... for two hours. And then stop by the grocery store on the way home to pick up a few things for dinner.

Needless to say, by the time I finally mounted the last of the 5 flights of stairs leading to my apartment, I was in a considerable state of discomfort. All in all, however, it was not enough to tarnish the overall pleasantness of the day.

On the whole, my long weekend was relatively uneventful. Went out with friends (and spent far too much money) for a friend's birthday on Saturday night--rolling home around 5am to discover that, when totally schmammered, the 24-HR McDonald's is every bit as irresistible as I'd imagined it would be--and paid for it (though not as dearly as expected, owing, most likely, to the afore-mentioned McDonald's) on Sunday morning. There was a bit of work scattered throughout as well, but really, nobody wants to hear about that.

And there you have it.

Not, perhaps, the plot of a Summer Blockbuster--or even a Lifetime Movie of the Week--but enough to keep me from feeling like a total loser.

Works for me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mental Chiropractics

I need a serious attitude adjustment.

In an hour or so, I'll be heading downtown for my third day of training for Waitressing Job. Today we're learning the Bar, and I'm already annoyed because they've told us we'll be pouring with a jigger. I know how to free-pour properly, and I find jiggers slow, tedious, and messy, particularly if one is in a rush. Thus, I am pissed off before I even get to work, a pattern that has been in effect for, oh, years... particularly when related to the service industry.

It is, in fact, the reason I got out of the industry in the first place.

Holy shit, there is an aeronotical insect ballet taking place in my livingroom. I really need to get screens for my windows. Right, back to the issue at hand.

I stopped waiting tables 4 years ago because it made me miserable, made me not only see the worst in people, but expect it, which is an attitude that is so very much not in line with my usual outlook on life. So I quit... and went on to be a personal assistant--definitely NOT the way to go when trying to restore one's faith in humanity. But I digress.

The bottom line is: I was skeptical when I took this job, but I need a job. Specifically, a job that pays more than Unemployment, which this one hopefully will. It is an act of necessity, but does necessity dictate that I must be miserable for the next few months?

Yet there I sit in training, the restaurant won't even open for business until the end of next week, and I can practically feel the negativity oozing from every pore.

Is there such a thing as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for New York City waitresses?

This restaurant is very, shall we say, "High Concept." It has an extremely limited menu and a very specific way of doing things. On one hand, this is fabulous. It makes my job that much easier not having to memorize 5,000 appetizers, or worry about swapping out sides and holding the mayo/onions/etc. Yet every time a new piece of information is introduced, I immediately find myself imagining the customer who is going to raise an enormous stink over the fact that we don't have ketchup, and therefore refuse to tip me.

It's very similar to a few years ago when the shit was hitting the fan with The Evil Ex Roommate. She flew off the handle and treated me so horribly at the slightest provocation that no matter what I did or did not do, or before she had knowledge of either, I would imagine and steel myself for the tirade to come.

I took so much abuse--from my roommate, my customers, and even my former employers--that I've come to expect it. Which is, um, bad.

Or perhaps it's less an issue of PWSD (Post Waitressing Stress Disorder), and more the fact that I am essentially bitter that, after spending 4 semesters and nearly $100k on a Masters Degree, I'm right back where I was 4 years ago: waiting tables and struggling to keep financially afloat--which is essentially a gigantic kick in the ass and an indicator that, perhaps, I've been wasting my time (not to mention my credit rating).

Regardless of the cause, what I need to figure out is: is there any way I can turn this attitude around, give the service industry (and myself) a clean slate and start over with, if not exactly a positive, then at least a neutral outlook?

Or have I simply made my bed, as they say? ...And now I have to work in it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Little Lessons

I haven't officially begun training for Avon (psssst! Have you donated yet? You totally should! All the cool kids are doing it! Here, check it out!), but since the weather has been fine, and my fat ass* needs to lose some weight, I went on a 2 hour walk both yesterday and today. Yesterday I tackled Fort Tryon Park (even more beautiful now that everything is green!) and Inwood Hill Park (only natural forest left in Manhattan!), and today I walked from 52nd St & Lex to 125th & St. Nicholas via a very circuitous route through Central Park.

Here are a few things I learned along the way.

1. There is NO easy way up the hill into Fort Tryon Park.

2. Even if there was, it would NOT be the stairs.

3. Inwood Hill Park is very aptly named.

4. Black Squirrels! Who knew?

5. Central Park is, in fact, even bigger than it looks on the map.

6. That being said, walking from South-East to North-West corner, it takes about an hour and a half to get across, but you could easily spend a day there and not see everything.

7. If you're walking on the gravel paths in CP, the gravel WILL get into your shoes.

8. The Rambles are paved. Boo.

9. Groundhogs! In Manhattan! Who knew?

10. Googling "fragrant purple flowers" will not help you figure out what those amazing flowers in the Heather Garden are.**

11. It is possible to be out and about in Manhattan and not see another human being for over an hour.

12. If you get deep enough into Inwood Hill Park, you can't hear the cars anymore.

13. When 10 and 11 happen simultaneously, you may or may not start imagining Axe Murderers lurking in the underbrush. I blame over-exposure to Law and Order.

* Before you all go postal on me, yes, yes, I am aware that my definition of "fat ass" probably varies greatly from some of your definitions... which doesn't change the fact that I've eaten nothing but crap for the last month and my waistline has suffered accordingly. So nyeh.

** I'll give a dollar, or maybe just a cool web badge, to anyone who can re-write that sentence without the dangling preposition and NOT sound like a pompous ass. I tried. It's not easy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Food Porn

I don't own a scale, a fact for which I am currently exceptionally grateful, as I'm fairly certain that I've gained about 10 lbs in the past six weeks, due to my erratic eating schedule, the high-calorie count of the take-out food available close to the hospital, and my friend's constant craving for cupcakes.

So what do I do now that she's gone away?

I cook.

A lot.

What can I say? Cooking is like therapy to me... if only my hips and belly felt the same way.

What I really need to do is go on a cleansing fast to rid myself of the desire to eat crap--which is at an all-time high right about now--but at the moment I'm a bit too stressed out to deal with a liquid diet, so until I can find an appropriate week in which to rectify my wretched eating habits, I give you...

Food Porn.

#1 Fresh Pasta
Before setting off on his cross-country move to Texas, my friend K had to deal with the frightening aspect of packing up his, um, shall we say cluttered, apartment.

Which is how I ended up with a pasta maker. Score!

Granted, I had to take the whole thing apart to clean it, which took about 2 hours, and then again after I jammed it up with my first attempt... but once I got the hang of it?

So very worth it!

Exhibit A. Fresh Linguini

Exhibit B. Fresh Spaghetti

Exhibit C. Linguini with Red Sauce

Exhibit D. Spinach Spaghetti with Red Sauce & Olives

There was also some Spinach Spaghetti with Pesto, which was, in fact, excellent... but try as I might I couldn't find a photo that made it appear appetizing.

#2 Back to Bread
Since moving to my new apartment, my devotion to home-made bread has fallen by the way-side. Doing it properly can be a time-consuming process--lots of waiting around for dough to proof--and all I wanted to do when I got home from the hospital was watch a few episodes on the DVR and pass out.

No more! The other night I dove back in to my favourite food-related pass time with a batch of olive-oil dough... only, being out of olive oil, I used avocado oil instead, which made a nice substitute. The results...?

Exhibit A. White Pesto Pizza with Olives, Oven-Dried Tomatoes, and Asparagus

There are not words to express how much I love fresh asparagus! This would have been better had I stretched the dough a bit thinner, but I was hungry and impatient. Bad Frog!

Exhibit B. Oven-Dried Tomato & Pesto Bread

Kindly ignore the detritus in the background (my apartment is seven different shades of disaster right now) and feast your eyes on the gorgeousness of these loaves! The original recipe calls for the tomatoes, whole cloves of carmelized garlic, and fresh basil... but the basil always dried out in the oven so I decided to try Pesto instead. I actually haven't tried it yet, so I'll have to let you know how that experiment turned out!

#3 Cookies!!!
There happens to be a Borders bookstore en route to the hospital where my friend was staying, so I made quite a few visits in the past month and a half. During that time, they had a HUGE selection of cookbooks on super-sale ($3-$6 each), all lined up right next to the check-out, and, well, I couldn't help myself.

One of the first that I bought was "The Cookie and Biscuit Bible." These were on the cover, and I'd been dying to make them ever since I bought the book.

Exhibit A. Honey Crunch Creams

They're supposed to be made with Greek Honey, which I couldn't find anywhere, so I used Orange Blossom instead,and Oh... My... God! Wish I'd made a full recipe instead of just a half. My hips, however, are probably thanking me.

That stuff in the middle? Is Honey Buttercream. Yeah. Heaven.

In addition the all of the above, there was also some freaking fabulous Chicken and Snow Peas from my new stir fry cookbook, but I didn't get any photos. I will next time, I promise!

So there you have it.

Anybody else feeling hungry?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back from the Abyss

Well, it's my 400th post, and I'm here to say... Sorry for disappearing on y'all like that, really I am. The past 6 weeks have been exhausting. The days more or less blurred together after awhile, and I figured that simply falling off the grid for a bit was better than filling your readers with a bunch of semi-comatose "Today at the hospital we..." posts.

But as of Tuesday my friend was released, and as I type this she is winging her way towards Idaho with her mother, where she'll spend the next few months rehabbing and getting her strength back. (Baby, if you're well enough to be reading this, you know I love you! Keep up the hard work!!).

And here I am, trying to get my life back to some semblance of normalcy--or whatever it is that passes for normal in these parts. Which means lots of cooking, so one of my trademark Food Porn posts is imminent.

In the mean time, I had an interview for a job I really wanted that I thought went well, but I didn't get the job. I took a job as a waitress that I don't really want but thought it might be nice to get off unemployment... so long as this place takes off. If I end up making LESS than I am on unemployment, well, I'm gonna be pissed. Either way, training starts next week. In about an hour I have to leave for an audition for a show that I'm not entirely sure I want to do after having read the sides the director sent for the audition, but I already signed up so I'd might as well go. I'm hoping the UPS man gets here before I leave because I really want the shoes he's delivering (some kick-ass old school Vans that I got for a ridiculously low price, fingers crossed that they fit!). I'm halfway to my fundraising goal for Avon, so if you haven't donated yet, go do it now!!! Every little bit helps, and a donation of $10 or more enters you into my raffle with sweet, handmade prizes! Come on, who doesn't like prizes? Oh, and tried to hook me up with a 26 year old World of Warcraft fan who lives with his parents, which pretty much sums up how well *that* little venture is going...

And I think that's pretty much it. My apartment is still not remotely unpacked and completely filthy. The other day I spotted a roach in my dishwasher, which left me less than pleased, and yes, I ran the entire load again.

Bottom line: I am exhausted. I slept late today (miraculously, my cat allowed me to do so!) and still I feel wiped out. I feel like I need to sleep for a week, but unfortunately, I don't think that's in the cards just yet.

So here I am. I am back. In spirit if not in energy. Thanks for waiting :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bloggers + Alcohol =

The night began simply enough, with a stupidly-crowded (or stupidity crowded, depending on your viewpoint) New York City bar, a hastily consumed beer, the requisite attempt to rally 10+ people to migrate to a new location, and the ever-fabulous (and, it must be said, positively smokin' hot) Deutlich.

Somewhere in the middle there was a shot of Yaegermeister, my complete inability to stop staring at Deutlich's fantastic cleavage, and sneaking into the Men's room when the line for the ladies was WAY too long.

And rounding it all out was public urination, rent-a-cops, walking home barefoot through a park, and Rice-a-Roni at 3:00am.

So here I am, remarkably only mildly hungover and seriously considering going to McDonalds with the $20 I have to my name until I get my wallet back from these two, in whose car I managed to leave it after getting us lost in a park.

I must say, this Frog was in need of some serious debauchery, and last night certainly fit the bill.

Can't wait to do it again!


Augusto Boal, whom I had the great honor to study with for a short time last Summer, has passed away.

People the world over have benefited from his work, and I am honored to have known him while he was still with us.

Rest in Peace, Augusto. If there is a heaven, I am certain you are there.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Liver is Already Whimpering...

Why, you may ask?

Because tonight I FINALLY get to meet the fabulous Deutlich, along with several other DC bloggers that I must abashedly admit I do not read (and about whom I suddenly feel an insane urge to cram so as not to appear anti-bloggy-social), who have road-tripped up to my lovely city for the sole purpose of getting absolutely shitfaced.

Or so I have been lead to believe.

If I'm still alive tomorrow, I'll tell you all about it.